Cutting straight to the chase, a detailed report released tells how state-sponsored doping is embedded deep into the country’s Olympic team. Despite pleas from former athletes, fans and anti-doping agencies alike, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has decided against a blanket ban of the country and has instead chosen to hand the responsibility of banning athletes to the 28 governing bodies of the respective sports in which Russian athletes are competing in.
Now as a 16 year old myself, I know most of you reading won’t know every minute detail of the current situation and that is completely fair enough. I’ve done some digging and found these small facts which I felt summarise the current situation:
- The report was published by Canadian law professor, Richard McLaren, and has been described as containing “conclusive evidence” to state-sponsored doping embedded in Russia.
- Yuliya Stepanova is the whistle blower who alerted authorities to what The Guardian website calls “deep-rooted state-sponsored doping”. She is currently living in hiding in North America and was still hoping to compete in Rio 2016.
- One month before the report was published, all Russian track and field athletes were banned from competing in the Rio Olympics due to doping concerns.
- It is believed that the system works by simply making positive results disappear and that this had become state policy following a poor medal count of just 15 at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Now this seems pretty conclusive, but remember, you or me have not seen any physical evidence of doping. We haven’t seen a photo of the positive tests being thrown away or an athlete admitting they deliberately participated in the doping program. All we have is a whistle blower, Yuliya Stepanova, who I can confidently say most of you have never heard of.
Now this isn’t to say Russia isn’t doping its athletes, such a report couldn’t be published if there was nothing fishy happening within the team. The issue I want to raise is that we, as teenagers, need to consider why we are demanding Russia be given the blanket ban which the IOC is refusing to enforce. What I believe we are guilty of is this; stereotyping every Russian athlete because of the way Russia is held up to us as a country in the media.
The generalised media stereotype for Russia is ‘a big bad country which always has its finger on a nuclear-war-with-America button’. We’ve been told that there is a state-sponsored doping program and we believe it because in any situation we always view Russia as the ‘baddies’, even though none of us have conclusive evidence that the doping allegations are actually true. Think about this, if it was America being accused of state-sponsored doping would you instantly think the 555 athletes that the USA are sending to Rio are dirty? No you wouldn’t, so why think it for Russia?
I will feel very sorry for any purely clean Russian athlete who wins a medal in the Rio Olympics and does it through hard work, dedication and enthusiasm, because unfortunately he or she will instantly be called a dirty cheat by teenagers who believe this incorrect Russian stereotype held up to us.
Author: Steven Walton
Steven Walton is a 16 year old student currently attending St Andrews College in Christchurch, New Zealand. He was brought up with two older brothers and his big passions are sports (especially motorsport), people and writing. He runs his own motorsport blog, Green Flag F1 (www.greenflagf1.com) and is aspiring to be a journalist when he is older.